I love my local used bookstore.
It is my favorite spot in the city. On the rare occasion that I have an afternoon to myself, I head down to Blue Cypress Books on Oak St., find a new book, then walk to Rue De La Course for a coffee. I sit outside the coffee shop on Carrollton sipping coffee, reading my new-to-me book, and listening to the streetcars roll by. It is blissful and my heaven. I am certain that heaven will have streets of gold lined with coffee shops and bookstores, it must.
Over the years I have been criticized for spending money on books. I dismiss this. We all spend money on things we love or enjoy. It might be wine, shoes, coffee, books, or makeup, we all tend to make room in our budgets for the things that are important to us. I have tried over the years to save money and “lighten my load’ on book buying. It is not going well.
Libraries are wonderful.
When my kids were small, we visited them often. However, the truth is, I am hard on my books. When I am in the middle of reading one it is hard for me to put it down. They go with me everywhere. By the time I am through with them they have coffee stains, watermarks, creased spines, and bent pages. That kind of abuse is not fair to a library book. My other problem with library books is that I tend to be blissfully flighty. I forget my due dates quite often (ok every time). I also forgot where I and/or the kids have left our library books. I was paying so much in late fees that I am saving money by buying used. My husband used to joke I was going to be arrested one day for library fines. I could try to get better at this, be more responsible. But I am 36 and accepting this blind spot, no one is perfect. I want to enjoy my books without worrying about overuse, late fees, or reading in enough time before due dates. I will just buy used, thanks.
If I had a dollar for every time someone recommended digital books to me. I tried y’all, I really did. I even bought one of those paperwhite readers from Amazon, specifically designed for a reader like me. Hated it. The appeal is there! Thousands of books ready for me at the click of a button, cheap too! Hated it, could not have hated it more. I like holding a book in my hands. I like browsing actual bookstores with bright colored covers and different fonts. It’s just not the same. This goes for audio too, it is a no.
If you are going to venture to a used bookstore there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
You cannot expect it to be like a new bookstore. They are often small places, run by one person. They try their best to keep things organized but with people browsing and placing books down everywhere it is a monumental task. Embrace the chaos. I find it akin to a treasure hunt. I like picking up all the obscurities and reading the back covers. I give myself plenty of time to browse.
It is not going to have all the latest best sellers. A good rule of thumb is a year from release. If a book is wildly popular you probably will not find it on the shelves of a used bookstore until it has been in circulation for at least a year. When I hear about a book I want to read, I put it on an ongoing list in my phone. When I go to the bookstore, I pull out my list and search. I can say, I have never left disappointed. I always find something that has been on my list. I do not feel the need to read a book as soon as it comes out or as soon as it is popular, that helps curb my expectations. If I have it on my list, I know I will find it and read it, eventually.
Lastly, I love lending my books out.
My reader friends are always asking me if I have such and such book because they know, I probably do. I find joy in sharing my books with friends. Talking about them when they are finished and passing them to the next person. I have lost many many books over the years this way, but it is all part of the wonderful world of books to me. I have borrowed a good number of books as well; I view it more as circular than linear. It all works out and the books go round and round. I like to think they have all ended up in the hands of people who have really enjoyed them. Because there really is nothing like being wrapped up in a good book!